Summary report November 22, 2012 - Chemicals Management Plan Stakeholder Advisory Council

Chemicals Management Plan Stakeholder Advisory Council Meeting

  • Co-Chairs:
    • David Morin (Director General, Science and Risk Assessment, Environment Canada [EC])
    • Karen Lloyd (Director General, Safe Environments Directorate, Health Canada [HC])
  • Council members present:
    • Susan Abel
    • Andrew Black
    • Shannon Coombs
    • Amardeep Khosla
    • Gary LeRoux
    • Gordon Lloyd
    • Eric Loring
    • Maggie MacDonald
    • Sandra Madray
    • Mary Richardson
    • John Skowronski
    • Dr. Don Spady
  • Government officials present:
    • Greg Carreau (Executive Director, Program Development and Engagement Division, EC)
    • Vincenza Galatone (Executive Director, Chemicals Management Division, EC)
    • Stephen McDonald (A/Director, Risk Management Bureau, HC)
    • Robert Chénier (Director, Ecological Assessment Division, EC)
    • Christine Norman (Director, Existing Substances Risk Assessment Bureau, HC)
    • Doug Haines (Director, Chemicals Surveillance Bureau, HC)
    • Jake Sanderson (Manager, Horizontal Policy and Planning Section, EC)
    • Mike Wade (Research Scientist, Hazard Identification Division, HC)
    • Michelle Bowerman (Manager, Program Liaison, EC)
    • Roxanne Clément (Coordinator/Officer Environmental Programs, Program Liaison, EC)
    • Danielle Schami (Senior Advisor, Stakeholder Engagement Office, HC)
  • Regrets:
    • Dr. Victor Goldbloom, Bruce Cran, Fe de Leon, Keith Mussar, Lorena Ligori, Dr. Lee Wilson, Shelagh Kerr

Opening Remarks

Government officials provided updates of action items from previous meetings as well as a progress update of current program initiatives.

Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) Science Committee
The proposal to launch the CMP Science Committee is currently going through Departmental approvals. Members were reminded that this Committee is intended to provide science expertise. The Committee is proposed to be a standing body consisting of a core group of 10 to 12 members with expertise in ecological and human health risk assessment and other complementary skills sets. A mechanism to bring in ad hoc members with specific expertise is planned. A call for nominations is planned for early 2013 with the first orientation session for the Committee expected to be in the fall. Members expressed some concern about the delays in establishing the committee and expressed their support for its formation.
Groupings Initiative update
An update on the progress of the Groupings Initiative over the first year was provided with a focus on information gathering activities. It was highlighted that mandatory information gathering activities for the first five Groupings were complete and that engagement with stakeholders was underway for the remaining four Groupings. In addition to information gathering, a technical consultation on proposed subgroupings for the Aromatic Azo- and Benzidine-based Substances Grouping was held in March 2012. A draft Technical Background Document outlining the subgrouping approach and summarizing overarching technical knowledge was released in July 2012 for a 60-day public comment period. The final Technical Background Document is expected to be released at the same time as the draft screening assessment reports for two subgroupings in the summer of 2013. There were questions related to the number of chemicals that were assessed in the past as well as how many would be addressed by the 2020 goal. Government officials indicated that the number of chemicals assessed per year varies and that New Substances assessments also need to be considered since they assess up to 500 pre-market chemicals every year. There were also questions related to funding and whether the Government had sufficient resources to do all the work. Government officials indicated that the program has adequate funding to meet its objectives.
Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA)
An update was provided about the agreement between Canada and the United States which was first signed in 1972, renewed in 1978 and last updated in 1987. Canada and the United States signed an updated Agreement in September 2012. It was explained that the updated Agreement facilitates United States and Canada to take action on threats to the Great Lakes water quality and take measures to prevent ecological harm. Former Annexes regarding chemicals have been consolidated into one new Annex "Chemicals of Mutual Concern", a static list of chemical substances with a new binational process for identifying chemicals of mutual concern by both parties.
Petroleum Sector Stream Approach (PSSA)
A brief update on the Petroleum Sector Stream Approach was provided. This initiative includes approximately 160 substances identified as priorities for action through the categorization process which have been batched into 5 streams based on production and use. Timelines are currently outlined in the CMP Implementation Table on the Chemicals Substances website.

There were questions related to the release to the environment from substances in Streams 1 and 2. Government clarified that the potential for these substances to be released to the environment was considered in developing the risk assessment even though these substances are site and industry-restricted. There were also questions pertaining to timelines for risk management measures. Government described the timelines and process for risk management activities.

Members indicated that they were finding it challenging to track the progress of all CMP related initiatives and suggested that it would be beneficial to have one place to go to on the Chemical Substances Web site that presented the progress for all related CMP programs, including PSSA, Groupings, Section 71 Notices, etc. Government replied that they would consider developing such a tool.

Agenda Item 1 - Endocrine Modulating Substances: Assessment, Research and International Engagement

HC and EC staff presented an overview of recent activities in the area of endocrine related effects from the perspective of risk assessment, research, monitoring and surveillance, and international engagement, with a focus on the CMP.

The presentation generated commentary from Members including:

  • Questions related to work on chemicals at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). There was interest in knowing whether standardised testing considered low-dose effects and whether OECD recommended testing methods are being applied elsewhere.
  • There was some discussion about the design of reproductive and developmental studies and the rationale behind using one versus two-generation studies as well as endpoints that can be observed in these studies.
  • There were questions about the status of the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) study and when the results would be published. Government officials clarified that MIREC was initiated in 2007 and the expected publication of the first results is spring or early summer of 2013.
  • There was a question about who is the lead on research activities related to oil sands process-affected water impacts on gene expression in fish. This is the topic of an ongoing study at Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute (NWRI).
  • There was a discussion on the use of different terminology, for example "endocrine modulating substances" versus "hormone disrupting substances", particularly considering the use of the term "disrupting" is found in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). It was explained that in practice, the terms are used synonymously however "disrupting" can imply ultimate negative impact whereas "modulating" involves some level of impact but that is not necessarily adverse.
  • Concern was expressed about the potential link between chemicals and disease in society, such as the potential relationship between embryonic exposure to certain substances in very small doses and disease later in life.

There was a discussion regarding the diverse views expressed in the public literature on low-dose effects and on how to test for potential impacts of chemicals at environmentally relevant concentrations. Government officials noted that a number of monitoring and surveillance programs help determine the range in concentration to which Canadians may be exposed.

Agenda Item 2 - Publication of the Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 2

HC staff presented the plan for communicating biomonitoring results from Cycle 2 of the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). As some Council members participated in a working group created by HC to discuss communications challenges around the release of the Cycle 1 results, this presentation was an opportunity to report back on the Cycle 1 public documents and how these will shape publications for Cycle 2. The presentation provided an overview of the CHMS biomonitoring component, summarised the CHMS Cycle 1 release, and described the plan for communicating new biomonitoring results from Cycle 2 of the CHMS.

Additional information was shared through the discussion that ensued:

  • Some substances being monitored through CHMS are also being assessed or managed under CMP.
  • Approximately one third of the chemicals in the CHMS are repeated throughout all cycles of the study.
  • Different individuals are involved in each cycle of the CHMS, thus it is a cross-sectional study looking at trends over time for the general Canadian population and not a longitudinal study that follows the same population over time.
  • CHMS represents 96% of the Canadian population but does not include First Nations living on reserves south of the 60th parallel. In the North, similar biomonitoring work is being carried out through the Northern Contaminants Program that has been in place since 1991. It was suggested that it would be useful to circulate the CHMS report among Chief Medical Officers working in Northern communities to raise awareness about contaminants.

In March 2013, the Assembly of First Nations will be releasing a report from a similar study that includes people living on reserves south of the 60th parallel, thus complementing the work achieved under the CHMS.

Agenda Item 3 - Europe's REACH and Canada's CMP

EC staff presented an overview of Europe's REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Directive and outlined linkages and differences between REACH and Canada's CMP. The presentation also included an analysis of some of the outputs from both programs as well as the path forward.

  • The presentation generated a discussion about the similarities and differences of the two programs with an emphasis on how they are implemented.
  • There was a discussion regarding perceptions that have been reported on whether REACH promoted innovation. Some Council members provided their insight on REACH, its strengths and weaknesses.

Agenda Item 4 - Chemicals in Products (CiP)

EC staff provided a brief presentation on chemicals in products to initiate discussions on how to obtain better information on chemicals that are found in products in the market place. Government highlighted some of the challenges related to these substances and suggested three possible approaches. Members were asked to provide feedback on the approaches suggested to explore the opportunity for cooperative engagement with external stakeholders.

  • There was some discussion about the definition of consumer products. Government clarified that for the purposes of the discussion a broad definition was intended.
  • Some members commented that this work would require engagement of new stakeholders.
  • There were discussions about the current legal requirements related to importers and how they should know what substances they are importing into Canada. It was explained that there are other sources of information (for example, Material safety data sheets, targeted surveys) but significant gaps exist. It was pointed out by Members that the confidentiality of business information could make collaboration between companies with the intent of information gathering, a challenge.
  • Members pointed out that a similar discussion had taken place at the recent International Conference on Chemicals Management 3 (ICCM3) and suggested this as a starting point to prioritize work on specific sectors.
  • It was pointed out that there needs to be a better understanding of how Canada Border Services Agency controls products entering the country. It was also suggested that there are sources of information about what substances are in certain products. It was suggested that a better understanding of what information Government has access to would help focus any future work, including work by public interest groups, in this area.
  • Members questioned the type of market surveillance currently in place. Government replied that they are considering a pilot project to examine substances of concern in products already in the market place.
  • There was a clear interest from members to participate in a further discussion however, members emphasized the importance of focusing on a subset of sectors.

Closing Remarks and Proposed Agenda Items

The Co-Chairs thanked the Council Members for their valuable contributions towards all the topics presented during the meeting and identified and clarified the action/follow-up items to be addressed by Government. Members provided positive feedback with regards to the structure, processes and operations of the Council. They also indicated that they were pleased with the content that was presented during the meeting.

The Co-Chairs led a short discussion on potential topics for future Stakeholder Advisory Council Meetings. The following topics were raised as a result of this discussion:

  • Use of Science in Regulatory Decision Making
  • Quantitative Structure Activity Relationship and modelling
  • Approaches taken to assess environmental systems
  • Nanomaterials
  • Assumptions used in risk assessment
  • Discussion on alternative assessments and test methods
  • Update on the polymer approach
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